Tech-forward Kura Revolving Sushi Bar offers Orlando a brave new world of Japanese dining

Sushi-go-round

Tech-forward Kura Revolving Sushi Bar offers Orlando a brave new world of Japanese dining
Photo by Rob Bartlett

If there's a merge less sexy than food and technology, I cannot imagine it. But, apparently, I am a man on a lonely, lonely island because I was slapped with a two-and-a-half hour wait on my first attempt at visiting Kura Revolving Sushi Bar.

While Kura is an international chain with restaurants across Japan, Taiwan and the U.S., the new Orlando location in the heart of Touristan is only the second in Florida. Set on being a future-now kind of eatery, Kura Revolving Sushi Bar is a model of automation. And that begins before you even get inside the door.

Outside the entrance is an electronic check-in pad where you sign yourself onto the waitlist. You then wait out on the sidewalk, or wherever, until summoned via text. Once seated, you'll quickly realize there's enough industrial systemization here to warrant a tutorial on your first visit.

click to enlarge Tech-forward Kura Revolving Sushi Bar offers Orlando a brave new world of Japanese dining
Photo by Rob Bartlett

Essentially, Kura is a conveyor-belt sushi concept where the various plates — all dome-covered for freshness and safety — are proffered in a dish parade that snakes throughout the entire dining room. Though that selection is robust, there's even more to the menu. The full version can be browsed on the personal touch screen above the table. Everything on the menu — both the items you don't see on display and the ones you let slip past — can be ordered on-demand through the touch screen. Those special orders zip straight out to you via a second belt above the main procession.

click to enlarge Tech-forward Kura Revolving Sushi Bar offers Orlando a brave new world of Japanese dining
Photo by Rob Bartlett

Those already agog at what I've described so far will be giddy to hear that your drink order is delivered by a rolling, talking robot (Kur-B the KuraBot). In fact, apart from the hosting and an occasional check-in, the only other in-person assistance you'll receive is when you beckon it. The appeal of that depends on your ideas about hospitality and humanity.

The fresh food at Kura is fairly authentic Japanese fare, with the promise of ingredients that are "free of artificial sweeteners, seasonings, preservatives and colorings." Although sushi is central, the menu runs a decent range covering appetizers, sides, noodle soups (ramen and udon) and desserts (mochi ice creams, Japanese-style soy milk donuts, warabimochi and more).

click to enlarge Tech-forward Kura Revolving Sushi Bar offers Orlando a brave new world of Japanese dining
Photo by Rob Bartlett

All plates on the main conveyor belt are $3.30 each. The colorful sushi options include an array of nigiri, sashimi and seaweed-forward items like gunkan, norimaki and hand rolls. Don't worry, gaijin; there's also enough of a selection of busy stateside rolls like the California and the Philadelphia.

The traditional seafood nigiri here includes Hokkaido scallop, conch, octopus, squid and a nice variety of fish. Besides strictly orthodox preparations, there are also some good, but still delicate, riffs like tuna topped with a fine yuzu-jalapeño relish. The selection extends to some land items like sweet tamago (Japanese omelette) and beef bites like umami oil-seared beef.

One of the sushi standouts was the decidedly nontraditional crispy rice with spicy tuna, which stars a crunch-fried rice patty that's like a perfect little rice hash brown. It's one racy bite of texture and spice.

click to enlarge Tech-forward Kura Revolving Sushi Bar offers Orlando a brave new world of Japanese dining
Photo by Rob Bartlett

Some premium ingredients are also featured here. There's toro, though the regular tuna was the better of its class. Kura's preparation of sea urchin was a decent example of that intensely oceanic uni experience. One special limited offering I was lucky enough to seize was the wagyu beef, which had all the buttery fat layers and beautifully beefy flavor the name implies. It was served perfectly rare over sushi rice and topped with fried garlic slivers.

Good items beyond sushi include the tonkotsu ramen bowl ($9.20) and beef ojyu box ($9.35), a rice bowl topped with thinly sliced, sweetly marinated fatty beef, sesame seeds and scallions.

While the novelty here is inescapable, Kura Revolving Sushi Bar isn't just a gimmick. It's a well-oiled one-stop for quality, selection and value — one that happens to have all the frills for the tech generation.

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Location Details

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar

11579 Regency Village Drive, Orlando I-Drive/Universal

321-401-6777

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